How do we raise competent adults if we’re always doing everything for our kids? As devoted homeschool parents we often are very involved in our children’s lives, but as they mature, we should graciously back off and allow our teens to grow, learn and mature in every area of their lives.
“Parenting on Purpose” allows opportunity for our kids to develop the necessary life skills. Some may view this as a lack of parenting, but research shows that “helicopter parenting” — over-involved, hyper-vigilant parenting — is a one-way ticket to incompetent offspring, While we don’t want our children to fail, we need to realize that adversity is a normal part of life and the only way to teach our children coping skills is to make them do and think for themselves.
To quote Ann Landers,
“It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings.”
Here are some issues to avoid when parenting teens ~
- Do not speak for them. Do not stand in for them in social situations, doctor’s consultations, interviews, bookings and introductions. After blundering in this area and seeing my children cringe and roll their eyes when I butted in conversations, I made a decision to shut up and give my teens the space to speak for themselves. They often amaze me with their eloquence. My shy daughter still tries to avoid answering the telephone and greeting visitors, but she has become more confident. Practice makes this life skill easier.
- Do not lie for them. For over-protective parents, this may be a form of trying to soften the blows of life, but our teens need to connect with the consequences of their decisions, lack of diligence, mistakes or issues. Our teens need to learn to be honest, admit their failings, and find ways to make right. Often harsh consequences teach them far more than a weekend of lectures.
- Do not manage their time. Every teen should set their own alarms, wake up, prepare and be on time without mom or dad cajoling, persuading, nagging or reminding. Don’t rush around buying last-minute items, find lost clothes or projects or”helping” them reach their deadlines. Teach your teens to make schedules, activate their own alarms and add reminders to their cellphones, or simply keep a calendar or notebook. Our aim is to raise well-functioning adults here.
- Do not manage their budget & money. No matter how little or how much pocket-money your teen receives, they need to learn how to save, budget, spend or share their own money. If you constantly dish out money to your teen, you act as their personal ATM. Now is the time to open a personal bank account for your teen and teach them how to spend and save wisely. Don’t rescue them when they spend all their money or suddenly need more money. Give them ideas or opportunities from young to work to earn extra pocket-money. My kids tender for projects that need doing around the house to earn extra money.
- Do not fight their teacher/ “friend” battles. When your teen has issues with teachers or friends, it may be wise to listen and ask questions which may lead them to figure out what to do about their unpleasant situation, but at this point, parents should not be personally involved in bringing about resolutions. Let your teen figure things out for themselves. My eldest daughter once told her dad, “I can navigate this situation better on my own.” And she was right.
- Do not take over incompleted work/ chores. Do not rescue your teen when they forget their work, leave it behind, delay or procrastinate and run out of time with work or chores. Again, allow the consequences to be the life lesson here.
- Stop filling out their paperwork. Teens should learn how to complete forms or fill their own applications. With a little advice, most teens should be able to complete all their own paperwork. Practice this skill while they are still young. Every teen should practice their own signature and write neatly and clearly.
My parenting goal is to raise competent and capable adults. And to accomplish this, I am backing off in areas where my teens can stand on their own two feet. So, despite my love and my desire to hover and help, I want to see my teens succeed in the real world. This means that I may have to stand by as they navigate failure and real life stuff on their own.
So please don’t judge me if my kids seem a little unsure, make mistakes, or sometimes suffer the consequences … it’s all part of growing teens in independence.
And may I add here, that this is an area that calls for grace …
… to yourself … to your children … and to others. Grace to other moms who are trying to figure out just how much help is required .. or who don’t know how to step back … Grace to young adults who are growing and learning.
In Grace, Nadene